Build A Mobile Web Search Site Using Bing or Yahoo Data?

Cocomama Mobile Search

It looks like it’s  now possible for developers to create a web search engine on the cheap using data from at least two of the big three (Google, Yahoo,  Microsoft Bing) search engines.  Instead of having to build your own army of crawler bots and commanding them to index the mobile web, a prohibitively expensive and time consuming process, you can simply pass a  query in an API call to retrieve search results from at least two of the big three search engines.

I started thinking about this when I ran across not one but two new mobile search sites,  Cocomama ( and GoGettem (  Both returned surprising extensive and generally relevant results for the queries I tried.  And the results were real mobile web sites, not transcoded desktop ones. Based on the number and variety of results it’s obvious these sites are not searching a hand built mobile directory but are using a crawled index of the mobile web just like Google and Yahoo do.

Cocomama was submitted to Wap Review by its publisher so I was able to ask about the source of its search results.  They come from a UK based company called Mobile Commerce Ltd which in turn sources them from content  partners including Yahoo.  I couldn’t find any details of  an API,  pricing and terms  on the Mobile Commerce site. If you are interested, I suggest contacting them directly.

The other new mobile web search site, GoGettem, is from Coconut Island Software, whose main business seems to be web-based directories of  business verticals like realtors, hair dressers, nursing homes, etc.  appears to be Coconut Island’s first foray into the mobile web. It returns different results than Cocomama for the same query suggesting that the two sites use different search providers.

Gogettem Mobile Search

GoGettem and Cocomama got me wondering about the feasibility of building a mobile search site based on Google, Yahoo or Microsoft’s search APIs.  As Cocomama demonstrates, its possible to get resuable Yahoo mobile search results from Mobile Commerce, LTD but what about using one of the big three’s own APIs?

I started my research with ProgrammableWeb, a great site that tracks and catalogs every web API and mashup imaginable. There I was able to easily find information and links to tutorials and API documentation for all three big search provider’s APIs.  Unfortunately the Google and Yahoo APIs don’t seem to have any documented way to limit results to mobile sites.  It might still be possible with some hackery like using an undocumented parameter or post processing the resultset to eliminate non-mobile sites.  But doing either wouldn’t be very robust and could possibly violate the provider’s terms of service.

However, Microsoft’s Bing does accept a ‘MobileWeb’ source type parameter which surprised me considering how  Bing’s  own mobile site basically ignores the mobile web, returning almost exclusively links to transcoded desktop sites.  I don’t know how good the Microsoft mobile web results are but it looks like it’s worth exploring as there is no charge, no usage limits and no restrictions on ordering and blending results when using the Bing Search API.

I’m planning on experimenting with the Bing API to see if I can build a useful mobile web search on it.  I wonder if  any of my readers doing something similar Bing or another API? Let us know in a comment if you are.

I’ve added Cocomama amd GoGettem to the Wap Review Directory’s – Search/Web Search section.  In addition to mobile web search, both sites offer other mobile search and directory services.

Cocomama has mobile web search and a categorized directory of downloadable content (ringtones, themes, games) and information (news, sports, finance).

Ratings: Content ****_ Usability XXXX_ Score: 5 “Good”

Mobile Link:

Gogettem offers mobile web search and  U.S.only search pages for local businesses, people (phone number lookup), apartments, news, hotel rooms, restaurants, fitness centers and services for pets plus a calorie counter.

Ratings: Content ****_ Usability XXXX_ Score: 5 “Good”

Mobile Link:

5 thoughts on “Build A Mobile Web Search Site Using Bing or Yahoo Data?

  1. Can you please let me know the outcome of the mobile search project ? I am planning to develop one and would like to have some info before I try this out myself ? I am specifically looking for options where the content can be extended on all mobile delivery fronts.

  2. The serach results API that Cocomama use is our Monetised Search API – it’s available for both the UK and US markets. It is a staight rev share deal – no costs. When a user clicks on a sponsored result then the publsiher site earns a share of the ad revenue. In addition we provide extensive free reporting for anaylsis of serach query and sercah results.

  3. Cool, very interested to see what it can do! The first question that pops into my mind though is how they plan to make (or at least not lose) money off such an API … perhaps being in beta now, the biz model may change.

Comments are closed.